Most of the resources on homeschooling paint a rosy picture of homeschooling and it seems like a sure way to go. However, there are many pitfalls for homeschooling that you should know about. What are they?
Most pitfalls of homeschooling arise from not preparing well with your child. They are unforeseen and can create an emotional roller coaster. We will share the pitfalls that you can avoid if you know about them beforehand.
Hard to Keep Motivated In Homeschooling
Staying motivated to homeschool takes persistence, discipline, and creativity. We can’t say we have decades of experience since we are new at it. But we see countless examples of how this may be a pitfall for some families. We believe you need to have a balanced approach to homeschooling meaning both parents need to be involved to balance the load. Parents getting burned out is a major fear we have. Usually, your kids will follow you and your ways and therefore we must remain steadfast. So the first point is you will need to keep motivated to keep your kid in line.
At times your child will also have a hard time staying motivated. This is a potential pitfall because it could lead to boredom and they will lag in their studies. It’s important in this case to make sure the subject and curriculum you have selected are meeting their needs both emotionally and interest wise. Your children should agree with the curriculum. But if you need to consider making some changes, that’s fine! You might even need to take a break to reassess the situation. However, through a rich schedule and balanced subjects along with PE, you should be able to keep motivated to avoid this pitfall.
Getting Stuck on The Curriculum Selection
This pitfall is something we also fell into the first few months of our homeschooling adventure. Our concern was that we would choose the wrong curriculum and be stuck! But after we reviewed so many types of plans and methods we were overwhelmed with data. Our problem was how to choose the right curriculum? We were searching for signs and feedback from other parents and tried out some free trials, but couldn’t find the right curriculum. The search for the perfect resources to homeschool didn’t seem to exist or was too expensive.
After the dust settled, we came to a realization and it was there was no perfect or correct curriculum for us. We were going to have to try one and go with it until we had experience and our son had some feedback for us. As a new homeschooler, we had no experience and we certainly were not professional homeschoolers, so it was all very stressful for us. Although my wife is a trained music teacher, we didn’t know what to expect. We were teaching math, reading, and writing to a first grader.
Our first way was to start slowly with an online curriculum and it was free. We also used some readers and phonics workbooks that we bought from the local bookstore. So the main takeaway was that you just have to try a curriculum and go with it. We would have liked to have an elaborate way of selection, but we didn’t have this experience. We had people suggesting things for us, so in the end, we just went on our way. We wrote another specific and helpful article on how how to choose the right curriculum here. Don’t let yourself get stuck on trying to find the perfect curriculum.
Teaching Your Children Can Be Challenging!
Don’t underestimate the difficulty of teaching your child. This hazard you may encounter on day one could put you in peril from the start. I just think about it when I tried to teach my child how to tie their shoelaces. My son is very independent-minded and he doesn’t like to be taught, even something simple like this. He will insist he knows how already and refuses to listen. During homeschool, you will encounter these situations all the time. Both you are your child will need to accept the relationship you have as a parent-teacher. Or is it a teaching parent?
With teenagers and their hormones, this can be a stiff challenge compared to dealing with elementary-aged children. Luckily my daughter is well behaved and with the right mindset, I have learned how to offer my “constructive criticism” and guidance in a way that she can accept. Perhaps it’s because I am also a Toastmaster and have learned how to deliver evaluations or critiques of speeches in a way that people can appreciate. We learn how to provide feedback in a way that offers positive and helpful ways for them to improve on something. In this manner, they are more likely to listen and there will be less argument.
Time Management is Critical to Avoid Failure in Homeschool
Don’t be fooled into thinking that homeschool is a breeze because you can wake up when you want. And you read that it only takes a few hours per day to complete your homeschooling. That is an average and probably done by someone with experience. As a newbie to the process, this could pose a real snag in your progress. The time management of you and your child must be decent to maintain a pace to finish your studies in a reasonable amount of time. Don’t get me wrong, if you need to spend more time on a subject, please do it! But you must be aware of time and how it impacts the overall schedule.
“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”Bruce Lee
I love this quote from Bruce Lee because it reminds us that time and schedules are good for reference. But in the scheme of things, the homeschool is preparing your child for life. And it may take more time and it might not happen at the same pace as everyone else. But your journey is a long one, so make sure you are being efficient if at all possible. Keep to a reasonable schedule or you may not be able to cover the amount of material as you planned. Depending on the age of your child this will determine the impact of falling behind schedule.
Do you have the Temperament for Teaching?
Do you think you are a good teacher? If you happen to already be a professional teacher, that’s good you have confidence. You might be an incredibly gifted teacher or professor. But when it comes to temperament, do you think you have a good temper to teach your child? We assume most homeschoolers are not experienced teachers. We only started a few years ago and are always learning about our skills and weaknesses. But what is temperament? It means in simple terms your personality for teaching.
Conscientiousness incorporates traits related to dependability, such as being thorough, responsible, confirming, careful, and planful, as well as a set of characteristics related to motivation, including drive and persistenceThe Big Five Personality Dimensions And Job Performance
The research shows one personality trait that can cause some to fail at homeschooling or lead to many difficulties is conscientiousness. That means one who is careful and pays attention to the details and has a very high standard no matter what they do. If you are not meticulous in the preparation of homeschooling you will be at a disadvantage. This might also make perfect sense in any job-related situation as well. If you are always striving for the best and have your family and your child in mind when you oversee the process, you will succeed. If you don’t have this temperament for teaching, you might want to think twice about homeschool.
Concept of Home and School Converge in Homeschool
The convergence of the home and school may be a hazard that can create tension in the beginning. Your kids have a concept of school and that is usually a place where you learn from a teacher. It is somewhere usually outside of the home. When you ask a young child about the home they will probably say it’s a place where they live with mommy and daddy and it’s where they sleep. When you introduce homeschooling to children young or old, it is a new concept for them to comprehend. The 2 places just converged and they might not be used to this.
When kids are in school they expect to follow a regimented process of learning. They receive some instruction, do some classwork, and go home to do some homework. Then they will have a quiz or test to evaluate their progress. In homeschool, you will need to find the schedule that fits the pace and needs of your child. It has to be regular and it’s best they can take part in the creation of daily and weekly planning. Kids do best when they follow rituals and get into habits to guide them and make them familiar with learning at home. Their self-efficacy will develop and they become independent learners with strong confidence in what they do
Preparation, Knowledge, and Teaching Skills Needed!
We’d like to remind you that there is much preparation needed as well as knowledge and teaching skills for homeschooling. It’s not to say that you must be a professional teacher. But you must prepare well and be a master organizer for your child. This could be a major pitfall if you don’t have this settled in your homeschool. Even if you choose an open and go curriculum, you still need to ensure your child and yourself are prepared for the material. Preparation includes supplies, textbooks, schedules, and evaluation material.
This is especially necessary as the subjects become more advanced, for example, middle to high school math! Imagine teaching these courses if you don’t have any knowledge of the subject. You will need to review the material first and make sure you can supervise or teach the material before you even start! If you realize there is a need for a tutor or perhaps you will need to consider joining an outside class, you need to prepare for this in advance. If you only find this out after you have bought textbooks and other materials, then that would be a serious setback.
Most states do not have a specific requirement for parent qualifications for teaching homeschooling. However, some states require you to prove that you have at least a high school diploma or GED. The logic is that you should not be teaching if you don’t have an education of at least over what you will be teaching. Admittedly, you will need to brush up on some skills yourself as you begin to teach your child. But it will be fun, at least I think so! But don’t underestimate the fact that this is some serious teaching and guidance you must provide.
Honest Evaluation of Your Child’s Homeschool Work
Not only must you teach your kids, but you must also do an honest evaluation of their work. Are you able to grade a written exam objectively without letting the “slide by”? Or will you be more critical when you grade them? In homeschooling, you need to be objective or you will be doing a disservice to your child. You are preparing them for the future in the real world! Firstly, you will need to have a grasp of what the local laws are in your state to make sure you comply with the regulations. Then you can choose a few different options on how to do a yearly evaluation. The HSLDA has a good resource of material that pretty helpful to check out here.
But beyond the yearly evaluations, you will need to grade quizzes and exams in between these major evaluations. And you need to set some criteria and protocols to make sure you do not provide a biased grade. Have you heard of rubrics? We didn’t either until we started homeschooling. This is a way to set a scoring guide for your child’s work. This ensures you don’t give a subjective evaluation of their homework or exam. Other evaluation types are creative like a presentation and if you want to see a few other examples of ways to evaluate, please check out this other helpful article from Sonlight.
You Will Be With Your Children 24hrs Every Day!
Don’t underestimate the fact you will be together with your kids 24 hours and there is no break! In the past, you might have dropped them off at school and you were free for most of the day. That was relaxing, right? Maybe you are used to working all day and coming home just to see your kids, like me as a working dad. Now we can see our son all day long and we can either love it or hate it! For most of us parents, this is fine especially if you are teaching and both spouses are involved in homeschooling. You will naturally have a break within the day.
However, if you are a homeschooling mom, and your husband is at work all day, you will be stuck with all of the duties. This can be considered a blessing, as some parents homeschool because they want to spend more time with their family and kids. But you will have to admit that as a homeschooling mom, you might get stressed and tired. Please consider the situation carefully and don’t miscalculate the extra time you and your child will be together. It might be the fact that they will get tired of seeing you all day! You might drive your kids nuts, not the other way around.
The Financial Impact on the Homeschooling Family
Homeschooling can harm your family if you do not consider the loss of income potential carefully. In our household, we have split the duties of teaching our son so we can both teach him and still work. My wife is a music teacher and she teaches at music studios, in our home and is freer to schedule her time. So we coordinate and set class time to fit our schedule. This has worked well and it can be done to limit the financial impact on us. In the future, we will work more from home. Therefore we will schedule our time to align with our homeschool needs.
The cost of homeschool can be economical compared to private schools and you can also spend as little as a few hundred dollars per year. Our spend so far for K-1 has been minimal since we started slowly online with Khan Academy and some used books for phonics, Bob Books, and other workbooks for math. We also got a History book from Book Depository. We only repurposed an old Ikea kids table and chairs for his workspace and we also have some bookshelves that used to be our son’s “safe stool”. I modified an Ikea stool and added some rails so he could safely step on and off at the bathroom sink.
But the impact on your finances could be serious depending on how you do it, so don’t underestimate the costs. An online curriculum from Time4Learning or IXL, both popular choices start at $9.95 per month. And this goes higher as you add more courses, features, and the number of kids using it. Check the link to a Parents article that lists so many useful resources to the curriculums and online sources.
Homeschooling is Stressful on the Parents!
I can attest to the fact homeschooling is stressful because you have the future of your children in your hands! When kids are in a traditional school you only need to worry about getting to school on time, paying their tuition, and making sure they do their homework, You don’t need to worry about curriculum, teaching, testing, grading, socialization, or preparing meals. That’s not all you need to keep up with. If you homeschool you will need to keep good records and watch if there are any changes in the regulations for homeschoolers in your state.
The stress in homeschooling can be a pitfall for some who cannot cope with the high pressure that is put on you and your family. If you have family members who don’t support your homeschool efforts, that’s tough. Moreover, if you have relatives that constantly question your decisions, or in-laws who ask prying questions all the time, this is stressful! You will need to prepare yourself in advance for this situation. For us, we are lucky, because we don’t have too much negative feedback or interference so far.
Your Kids Will Feel Stressful About Homeschooling
Children will feel stress in homeschool just like their parents. One thing that may be a source of stress is the new schedule. Our son was used to doing things in the evening like relaxing, playing outside, and not doing his homeschool work. We started out slowly with introducing homeschool after we picked him up from kindergarten. During the time we prepared dinner until he got ready for bed was the homeschool hour. This is our strategy to reduce the stress by getting him used to it gradually. Stress can be a pitfall that can have serious consequences on your homeschooling journey.
But sometimes he would resist because he wanted to just play like he usually did. He told us that he was already in kindergarten all day, so he just wanted to play and relax. We can understand so we let him do something he thought was relaxing, like learning to draw. This was still learning, but he found it to be fun. This is how we try to keep it stress-free and it seems to work. Check out this article from UC Berkeley about how to reduce the stress in your homeschool especially during the pandemic.
Discipline Problems in Homeschooling Can Ruin the Journey
Just imagine if you are teaching a new lesson and your child just walks out and doesn’t want to learn. They don’t even want to discuss it and they go to their room and say no more homeschooling. How can you handle the situation and get them back on track? If you are like us in the beginning, it was very difficult to get our son interested to learn. In the evening after he returned from kindergarten, he just wanted to relax. So we found a middle ground and we let him choose what he wanted to do in the order of his preference.
Some days the discipline problems ruin the homeschooling experience and we have to abort the day’s lessons. In the beginning, we were doing a gradual introduction to homeschooling. So we were not in a rush to stay on schedule. And the subjects were new for him and we didn’t want to turn him off to learning at home. He was only 5 years old so we focused on building his confidence and interest. But there were a few times where he would lose his patience and just roll on the ground in a tantrum. We can see how discipline challenges can wreck homeschool.
If Everyone is Miserable in Homeschool That’s a Problem
If you find yourself or your kid is absolutely miserable in homeschooling, then this is certainly a sign of trouble. Take a step back and evaluate what is going on. Where does the tension come from? Is it because of the subject being taught? Or is it the schedule or style of teaching on your part? Maybe your child is not getting enough time outside of the house to exercise or meet with others? Playtime is essential at any age. There are many reasons you or your child is miserable during your homeschool journey. And you should find out the reason before you continue.
With our son, we really found that if we did 3 subjects in a row it was too much for him at his young age of almost 6. We didn’t have him do much per task of writing his letters or doing phonics or math. Only 10-15 minutes per subject in the beginning. But that was already too much. So we broke it up by doing 1 subject at a time and then something fun in between. Or we let him play for a short time and then come back. We also allowed him to determine which subject he felt like tackling first and this seemed to reduce the miserable factor! If anyone involved is miserable, this should not be overlooked and is a serious pitfall in the process.